Surprises can be fun, but not when they come in the form of a home emergency. Burst pipes, overflowing toilets and power outages can be stressful, overwhelming, and scary.
Bailey Carson, a home care expert at Angi, shares tips on when and how to tackle home emergencies by yourself and how to know when it’s time to call in an expert.
“Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, it’s likely you’re going to come upon an unexpected home issue or project,” said Carson. “It could be something really minor, like a shower rod that has fallen down, or it could be something major, involving a power or plumbing issue. It’s important to know what to do in the case of an emergency. If it’s something you can’t fix yourself, be sure to have a few pros’ numbers on hand, so you don’t feel like you’re starting from scratch.”
Broken pipes can mean leaks and even major water damage. Calling in a plumber for an emergency – especially during off-hours can cost up to $200 per hour, plus materials and supplies, but you can try to slow the water flow until normal business hours by shutting off the main water valve to your home. Just make sure the water isn’t leaking near electrical equipment. If it is, leave it be and call in a pro right away.
“Clogged toilets can lead to leaks and water damage if left unresolved. Plus, they can be a real hassle if you need that toilet in use,” said Carson. “Start by turning off the water valve behind your toilet bowl. This will prevent any overflow. Next, try a traditional plunger. If that doesn’t work, head to your hardware store to pick up a drain snake. If that’s still not solving the issue, it’s probably time to call in a pro.”
HVAC issues can be a horrible surprise, especially if it happens in the middle of a snowstorm or heatwave. If your HVAC unit suddenly stops working, turn off your thermostat and check the power source to the unit and your electrical box. Resetting the outlet or a blown fuse can be a simple solution to this problem. If those don’t work, it’s time to call in a local HVAC specialist to figure out what went wrong.
“If your power suddenly goes out, check your electric box and see if you’ve simply blown a fuse,” said Carson. “It could be a really easy fix of just flipping it back on. However, if that doesn’t work, or you know the power outage could be due to weather, call your electric company to see how long they estimate before the power might be back. If it’s going to be a while, you might want to consider heading somewhere else. If you decide to stay home, make sure you have flashlights and candles on hand, and use it as a great excuse to eat all that ice cream in your freezer before it melts.”
There are a few tools that are helpful to have around in case of a home emergency. For cleaning up messes or leaks, have a 5-gallon bucket, duct tape, rubber gloves and heavy-duty rags on hand. To shut valves or tighten bolts, have an adjustable wrench, slip joint pliers, screwdrivers, and Allen keys along in your toolbox.
“If an emergency hits your home and you don’t know what to do, don’t guess, call a pro,” said Carson. “Remember that the longer issues are left unresolved, the more damage they can cause, so don’t delay. By example, a simple leak can turn into flooding. If the situation is dangerous, leave your home for somewhere safer before trying to handle it. However, if it’s not too dangerous, stay home and try to keep the issue under control until the expert arrives to truly fix the problem.”